Meople News: The Archmage’s Alien Spies

Wizards of the Coast / Avalon Hill

We had no idea this was coming when we did the Nostalgia post on Betrayal at House on the Hill recently. No one but the creators had any idea, I bet. Avalon Hill are going to release a new Betrayal game, crossed over with Dungeons & Dragons. Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate will have the same mechanics as Betrayal at House on the Hill, but instead of a creepy old mansion you’ll explore the creepy backstreets of the titular city. I imagine the haunts will be re-themed to fit with the new setting, and I am rather curious how many ways to turn you against your party they’ll find in classic D&D.


I love free negotiation games, and if they’re set in space and the trade is between different alien races that’s another big plus. WizKids’ Sidereal Confluence is exactly that. The nine different alien races need different resources to buy their technology cards, upgrade their colonies and earn victory points. And those are usually not the resources they produce on their own. So the trading is absolutely necessary for everyone, but still there can be only one winner.

Breaking Games

There are few themes that have inspired as many games as building your own civilization. This Kickstarter by Breaking Games doesn’t take you all the way to space travel, but the Rise of Tribes is an important step along the way. Rise of Tribes stays on the light side when it comes to rules, but you’ll need good strategy to build villages, control territory and make important, early inventions like pottery. Board presence with your meeples and working towards your goal cards are part of that, but it’s at least as important to manage your dice. You can activate all actions with any dice result, but if you manage to have two sun dice on an action your tribe experiences a particularly successful period and gets a stronger action. Conversely, two moons mean that you’re experiencing a temporary decline and get a weaker action. Those darn dice, will they never run out of way to mock us?

Plaid Hat Games

Crystal Clans (Plaid Hat Games)
Crystal Clans (Plaid Hat Games)

In this new Crystal Clans preview we learn about battles and the squad system. Using card stacks as squads is actually very intuitive, you line up the cards and everything that is visible then is active. That means only the top cards of a squad gets to use its special ability, but all units contribute their attack power to a fight. When the squad takes damage, it’s applied from the top. The first card takes all the damage it can take, if that is enough to destroy it the remaining damage goes to the next unit and so on. Battles also have a rock-paper-scissors element where both players select a card to play as their strategy. Those strategy cards have an effect on the battle that is powerful if your strategy is strong against the opponent’s – like a Guarded strategy against a Tricky one – but weak if your choice is bad.

Z-Man Games

A good core mechanism can power many different games. Case in point: SpyNet by Z-Man Games and Richard Garfield uses a drafting mechanism similar to Sea of Clouds, where you look at stacks of cards until you decide to pick one, then all stacks you looked at before have a card added for the next player. But instead of pirate treasure, the cards in SpyNet have secret agents for you to recruit. Remembering what was in the other stacks and which player picked them in the end is more important here because the way to score points is to play mission cards, and to play a mission card you must have more power than any other player from agent cards in the same color as the mission. So it’s always good to know which agents the opposition can play, because it might prevent your missions. It’s a more strategic use of the mechanism and should be a very good game.

SpyNet (Z-Man Games)
SpyNet (Z-Man Games)

Game Salute

Long years after a magical disaster destroyed the archmage’s tower and much of the surrounding city the planets are about to align, and an old prophecy says this is the time when a new archmage will rise. That archmage will be one of the players in Game Salute’s Archmage. But it’s a rocky road to get there. They must control the lands to find relics and recruit followers. They must find help from the mythic races to train apprentices in the six spheres of magic. And they must train those apprentices worthy of further teaching, with their worth determined by duel. When an apprentice is promoted he moves to a new place in the mage’s tower, and where your apprentices are determines which spells you can use. That’s a big part of the strategy in Archmage, promoting an apprentice you lose access to two spells until you initiate new apprentices, but you gain one spell of a higher level. Spellbook management is going to be critical.

The photo of the week was taken by Esther Westerveld. It shows the Fagus-Werk in Alfeld, Germany. The Fagus factory, a complex of ten buildings begun in 1910, is considered a landmark of modern architecture and industrial design. Thank your for this photo, Esther! (Fagus-Werk – Alfeld (Leine), Esther Westerveld, CC-BY)

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